Color Correction and Grading

I’ve been on a color correction and grading kick. It started awhile ago when I started learning Color Finesse in After Effects. It was then fueled after reading The DV Rebel’s Guide by Stu Maschwitz. It was then was kicked up by some great opportunities to pick up Magic Bullet Looks and Magic Bullet Colorista. Probably two of my most used plug-ins. I’ve started learning Apple’s Color over the last week.

I’m by no means a professional colorist. I don’t have the setup or the eyes for it. But I am amazed at the ability to enhance an otherwise mundane shot.

I haven’t decided on my ideal way as each path has it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s my thought process so far:

Final Cut Pro
– I do like the fact that Final Cut has built in scopes that work well for me.
– I don’t like the built in color correction tools in FCP. They don’t work in a way that I like to work.
– Built in filter’s don’t layer well for primary and secondary corrections.
– Difficult UI/ controls for masking
– Lack of tracker for animating masks
– Don’t like the UI FCP uses for filters. Too many times I’ve not had the proper clip loaded in the viewer.

After Effects
– I like the way AE deals with effects. Select the clip and the effect palette is updated.
– Handles grading in layers better. First optimize the layer, then to match it to surrounding clips, then to stylize the clip. This can be done with effects on the layer, adjustment layers and nesting
– There are no scopes included in AE. I know of Test Gear but haven’t bought it.
– Color Finesse that is included seems to a good job of correcting footage, but not designed for grading.

Magic Bullet Colorista
– Simple yet powerful interface
– Layers well
– Built in masking for secondary corrections. Mask can be applied to a tracker in AE
– Automatic Duck will translate the settings from FCP to AE
– I don’t like how the interface lays out in FCP. It’s more FCP putting the effects controls and keyframe timeline in the same window.

Magic Bullet Looks
– Very cool for grading footage. IE giving it stylized …um… “Looks”
– It is a render hog
– I don’t know if there is anything that you can don in Looks that you couldn’t do in AE. But you get scopes and lots of canned presets
– Has scopes in it’s interface.
– Did I say it’s a render hog? But when you think about it you could be applying a dozen or more effects on each clip

Apple’s Color
– I have to say it’s my favorite toolset for doing primary and secondary color correction.
– Probably the most powerful tool set especially when it comes to secondary color correction
– Tracker for animating masks.
– Downside is the workflow. It doesn’t take motion projects, titles or stills, you have to render those types of files out of FCP first before sending the project to Color.

I can’t say that I’ve made up my mind in which workflow I like better. I’m thinking it’s going to be:
– Edit in FCP
– Composite in AE. Use AE to color correct my elements so the match
– Back to FCP.
– Send to Soundtrack for scoring
– Send to color for final correction and grading.

Man this is getting more complicated. I have a project coming up in the next few weeks that I’ll get to test these workflows on.


September 16, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Video.


  1. mylifeisepic replied:

    you speak. in sentence. fragments.


    just kidding my brotha!

  2. Dave replied:

    I get excited when I get an idea. I want to write about that idea right then and there. But I need to realize I need to polish my ideas before posting. I was interrupted a dozen or so times while trying to write. Should’ve waited before posting and polish it up.

  3. Brent Homer replied:

    hey, get the ideas out. too much other stuff going on in life to be messing with impressing with the grammer…

  4. Dave replied:

    Don’t worry about it. Aaron’s one of my best friends just giving me a hard time.

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